2016 All-Nebraska football

The World-Herald names its selections to the 2016 high school football All-Nebraska teams.


Thanks to the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum near Ashland, which hosted the All-Nebraska football team. Though many players assaulted the record books, no history was harmed in the making of this photo shoot. Back row, from left: York’s Masry Mapieu, Bellevue West’s Sylvo Johnson, Lincoln East’s Chris Walker, Gretna’s Patrick Arnold, Bellevue West’s Tyler Ciurej, Omaha Burke’s Cole Frahm, Wilber-Clatonia’s Riley Homolka, Norfolk’s Lane McCallum, Ashland-Greenwood’s Brett Kitrell and Beatrice’s Cam Jurgens. Middle row, from left: Kearney’s Noah Urbanek, Bellevue West’s Jaylin Bradley, Omaha North’s Kendrik Parker, Omaha North’s Milton Sargbah, Elkhorn South’s Moses Bryant, Omaha Skutt’s Christian Banker and Omaha Creighton Prep’s AJ Hubner. Front row, from left: Wahoo Neumann’s Noah Vedral, Omaha North’s Zion Williams, Bellevue West’s Diego Galvan, McCook’s Zach Schlager, Bellevue West’s Kevin Ponec, Norris’ Austin Schultz and Millard North’s Jack Begley.


Ground control is calling card for captains

Running backs Jaylin Bradley, Moses Bryant capped record-setting seasons with state titles

No two running backs have been more dazzling in the playoffs — this year or any year — than Jaylin Bradley of Bellevue West and Moses Bryant of Elkhorn South.

Both are hoping to springboard that success to the next level.

For Bradley, that means getting his academics in order for a possible scholarship from Nebraska. For Bryant, it’s about raising his recruiting stock in the Class of 2018 — he’s already been on unofficial visits to Notre Dame and Iowa.

They were easy choices as honorary captains of The World-Herald’s 96th All-Nebraska team.


Jaylin Bradley, left, scored 24 touchdowns in four playoff games to lead Bellevue West to its first title. He finished with 52 TDs for the year. Elkhorn South’s Moses Bryant — just a junior — already owns the Class B record with 480 career points.

Related links
» All-Metro football teams
» All-Omaha Area football teams
» All-Class: Young guns, senior leaders
» List: All-Class teams, honorable mention


Jaylin Bradley, left, scored 24 touchdowns in four playoff games to lead Bellevue West to its first title. He finished with 52 TDs for the year. Elkhorn South’s Moses Bryant — just a junior — already owns the Class B record with 480 career points.

Related links
» All-Metro football teams
» All-Omaha Area football teams
» All-Class: Young guns, senior leaders
» List: All-Class teams, honorable mention

Bradley, a returning All-Nebraska back, scored 24 touchdowns — a Class A record — in the four playoff games that took the Thunderbirds to their first state title. His 52 touchdowns in 13 games are another state record.

He ran for 2,915 yards this season and 5,308 yards for his career. Both are school records.

“I worked hard to get back up here again,” Bradley said. “I accomplished two of my goals, to get to 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns and make all-state again.”

Bryant scored 16 touchdowns in his four playoff games, a Class B record, as Elkhorn South won nailbiters at McCook in double-overtime in the semifinals and against rival Omaha Skutt in the title game to repeat as undefeated state champion.

The 37 touchdowns this season by the junior, now a three-time Class B all-stater, helped push his career scoring to 480 points — 30 more than the previous record — with a year remaining.

Said Bradley: “He says he’s going to try to break my records. I hope he does because he’s pretty good. I want to see it happen.”

For the second straight year, Bellevue West puts five on the first team. Class A runner-up Omaha North had three. No other school had more than one, in part because of nine players from schools outside of Class A — the largest All-Nebraska representation since 2009.

Joining Bradley in Bellevue West’s quintet are wide receiver Sylvo Johnson, repeat selection Tyler Ciurej on the offensive line, Diego Galvan at linebacker and Kevin Ponec at defensive back.

North’s trio are offensive lineman Kendrik Parker, running back Milton Sargbah and defensive back Zion Williams.

The skill positions on the first team are manned by Sylvo Johnson and Class B record-setter Christian Banker of Skutt at wide receiver, Omaha Creighton Prep first-year starter AJ Hubner at quarterback and Bradley, Bryant and Sargbah in the backfield. The kicker is Cole Frahm of Omaha Burke.

On the offensive line are Ciurej, Parker, Patrick Arnold of Gretna, Brett Kitrell of Ashland-Greenwood and Chris Walker of Lincoln East.

On defense, the linemen are Masry Mapieu of York, Riley Homolka of Class C-2 champion Wilber-Clatonia and Noah Urbanek of Kearney. The linebackers are Lane McCallum of Norfolk (a two-time pick), Cam Jurgens of Beatrice, Zach Schlager of McCook and Galvan. The defensive backs are two-time pick Jack Begley of Millard North, Noah Vedral of Wahoo Neumann, Ponec and Williams. The punter is Austin Schultz of Norris.

Noteworthy about the All- Nebraska team:

» The repeat picks are Ciurej, Bradley, McCallum and Begley.

» There are six juniors this year, compared with four in 2015: Sargbah, Bryant, Mapieu, Schlager, Jurgens and Schultz.

» Seniors pledged to FBS schools are Kitrell (Minnesota), Arnold (Wyoming) and Vedral (Central Florida). The other known FBS pledges are Austin Allen of Aurora (Nebraska), who hurt his knee in the offseason and missed the entire regular season before playing in two playoff games, Davon Wells-Ross of Omaha North and Rudy Stofer of Kearney (both Wyoming) and Brett Harms of Crete (Air Force), the last three making the All-Nebraska second team. Season performance is valued above college potential for all-state consideration.

» NU has gotten pledges for its Class of 2018 from Mapieu and Jurgens.

Honor selections are based on nominations by high school coaches and observations by The World-Herald staff. All coaches were sent nomination forms by email.


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Behind the scenes: All-Nebraska football, volleyball

Take a peek behind the curtain of the all-Nebraska football and volleyball photo shoot at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum in Ashland.

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Meet the All-Nebraska first team

All-Nebraska offense

Christian Banker, Omaha Skutt, WR, 6-1, 185, Sr.
Set Class B’s season record with 1,276 receiving yards, making 70 catches for 12 touchdowns. “Christian made some amazing one-handed catches,” coach Matt Turman said.

Sylvo Johnson, Bellevue West, WR, 6-0, 160, Sr.
Scored on 16 of his 51 receptions, and his 1,279 yards topped Class A. “Really excelled in yards after catch, especially when teams realized how fast he was and played off with a safety cheating his way,” coach Mike Huffman said.

Patrick Arnold, Gretna, OL, 6-2, 295, Sr.
A two-way starter for coach Dave Shrader’s Dragons, he has committed to Wyoming. Was best on the O-line but also made 32 tackles as a defensive tackle.

Tyler Ciurej, Bellevue West, OL, 6-3, 295, Sr.
This South Dakota pledge started 44 of 45 games. “I’m not sure there’s a better one-on-one blocker than Tyler,” Huffman said. “He’s a dominant run blocker.”

Chris Walker, Lincoln East, OL, 6-6, 270, Sr.
Improved his speed and strength and is committed to Wyoming. “Chris is a finisher,” coach John Gingery said. “He pulls well, he moves well, he finishes blocks. He locks on and is tough to shed.”

Brett Kitrell, Ashland-Greenwood, OL, 6-4, 285, Sr.
The guard, who blocked for two-time 2,000-yard rusher Trevor Nichelson, is pledged to Minnesota — the only Power Five offer for an All-Nebraska senior. It’s been a successful comeback from a junior-year knee injury.

Kendrik Parker, Omaha North, OL, 6-1, 290, Sr.
A three-year starter for coach Larry Martin’s Vikings, he was an anchor at guard for a line that set the school record for rushing yards in a season and got North to its fourth Class A final in five years.

AJ Hubner, Omaha Creighton Prep, QB, 6-1, 180, Sr.
Threw for a Class A season record 3,248 yards and twice threw for six touchdowns in a game, tying another mark. His 40 touchdown passes set a school record. Didn’t play on varsity until this year.

Jaylin Bradley, Bellevue West, RB, 6-0, 195, Sr.
Doubled his career total by rushing for 2,915 yards and scoring Class A records of 52 touchdowns and 312 points. “Dynamic player with excellent vision and cutting ability and burst,” Huffman said.

Milton Sargbah, Omaha North, RB, 5-7, 160, Jr.
By running for a team-high 1,807 yards, he teamed with sophomore Zander Gray for the school’s first pair of 1,000-yard rushers in the same year. Also was 64 of 71 on extra-point kicks as his 250 points were eight short of Calvin Strong’s school record.

Moses Bryant, Elkhorn South, RB, 5-11, 195, Jr.
A three-time Class B all-state pick, he makes his first appearance on the all-class first team after breaking Class B career scoring records — and his senior year is still to come. “An outcome changer in many games,” coach Guy Rosenberg said.

Cole Frahm, Omaha Burke, K, 6-4, 205, Sr.
Owner of perhaps the strongest leg in the state, he drilled 65 of his 68 kickoffs for touchbacks. He was 8 of 13 on field goals and 47 of 48 on extra points.

All-Nebraska defense

Masry Mapieu, York, DL, 6-4, 285, Jr.
He pledged to Nebraska before the season, then backed up the offer by making 75 tackles for the Dukes. “He controlled the middle for us,” coach Glenn Snodgrass said. “He makes it impossible to run inside,” McCook’s Jeff Gross said.

Riley Homolka, Wilber-Clatonia, DL, 6-2, 260, Sr.
Was a disruptive force on opposing offenses and led the Wolverines to their first state playoff title. Had nine sacks, 11 hurries and 16 tackles for loss among his 54 tackles.

Noah Urbanek, Kearney, DE/LB, 6-2, 210, Sr.
“One of the best players to come out of KHS,” wrote Bearcats coach Brandon Cool. The South Dakota State pledge had 69 tackles — 14 behind the line of scrimmage — plus three sacks, four forced fumbles, one interception, two blocked punts and one defensive touchdown.

Lane McCallum, Norfolk, LB, 6-2, 205, Sr.
“Easily our most dynamic player on both sides of the ball,” coach Tom Olson said. Last year’s All-Nebraska kicker was fourth in tackles for the Panthers while playing a little more than half the time. Two-way starter scored 166 points to set Norfolk’s career record of 354.

Zach Schlager, McCook, LB, 6-2, 210, Jr.
“A one-man wrecking crew,” Bison coach Jeff Gross said. “He was the best defensive player on the field every week.” Made 119 tackles, including seven sacks, and rushed for 1,134 yards on only 116 carries.

Cam Jurgens, Beatrice, LB, 6-3, 240, Jr.
Opponents avoided the Nebraska pledge whenever possible, and he still was dominant on defense and as a tight end who would go into the backfield on occasion. Broke his hand in the first round of the playoffs and missed the Orangemen’s season finale.

Diego Galvan, Bellevue West, LB, 5-9, 185, Sr.
“A tremendous tackler who also was fantastic at timing blitzes causing major disruptions,” Huffman said. Led the state champions with 147 tackles, including 82 solos, and had five sacks and 18 tackles for loss.

Kevin Ponec, Bellevue West, DB, 5-9, 180, Sr.
The quarterback of West’s defense “was a great downhill force,” Huffman said. “A very sure-handed tackler.” He had four interceptions, including three in the semifinals against Prep, and 112 total tackles.

Jack Begley, Millard North, DB, 6-3, 205, Sr.
A returning All-Nebraska pick, he is pledged to North Dakota State. The three-year starter had 68 tackles — 41 unassisted — along with 11 breakups, four interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Noah Vedral, Wahoo Neumann, DB, 6-2, 185, Sr.
The three-year two-way starter for Neumann is pledged to Central Florida. As a defensive back, he had three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Threw for 2,001 yards and 21 touchdowns and ran for 739 yards and 13 TDs.

Zion Williams, Omaha North, DB, 5-11, 180, Sr.
The two-way playmaker for the Vikings set a Class A record with four interception-return touchdowns. Had eight picks overall. Caught 24 passes for 583 yards and seven touchdowns.

Austin Schultz, Norris, A/P, 5-8, 170, Jr.
His selection starts with his 41.5-yard punting average, nearly unsurpassed statewide. Then consider he rushed for 1,622 yards and averaged 25.5 yards a catch, 28.4 a kickoff return and 18.3 a punt return.

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